Clare Menck, born in Durban in 1969 – lives and works in Piketberg (Western Cape) – obtained a BA in Fine Arts (Cum Laude) from the University of Stellenbosch in 1990; an Advanced Diploma in Fine Art (painting) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, at the University of Cape Town in 1991; a MA in Fine Arts (painting) from the University of Stellenbosch and Post-graduate studies in 1998 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Dresden, Germany.
She is one of South Africa’s finest mid career painters and one of few who made self-portraiture her specialisation. Her delicate paintings hint at the intimate moments that we all experience. These moments are closely related to the artist, her family and friends, and have developed into a documentation of her public and private life. Michael Godby writes that Menck’s art is critically engaged with the materials of its own making. It is a meditative art. It engages with reality at some distance, either through the mediation of some form of image or through overtly constructed performance in the studio. In a very real way, this contemplative withdrawal to the studio reproduces the sense of alienation that is her invariable subject.
Clare Menck has been painting passionately for more than twenty years, focusing on subject matter, which at first glance appears to be the obvious and familiar yet on closer inspection and engagement with medium paint reveals a fresh and life affirming vision of the environments around us. Menck documents her own personal life that bears witness to the challenges and demands of balancing motherhood, family life and the desire to pursue a career as a professional and independent artist. She focuses on what she is most familiar with: herself pondering, wondering, swimming; the people she knows and loves, her children, close encounters and the environments she works in. Menck has refined her skills of observation, toiled with the images of other artists such Lucian Freud, Gwen John, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Gerard Ter Borg and Gustave Courbet, to name but a few, to develop an approach and vision that engages the eye, heart and mind of any viewer.